When it came to drafting pitching prospects back in March, Taijuan Walker, Archie Bradley and Jameson Taillon hogged the attention. Walker, of course, had a spot in the Mariners rotation, while Bradley and Taillon were seen as the two best stash prospects starting the year in the minors. And yet it looks like none of them will be the first top pitching prospect to make a start in the big leagues this year.
The Mariners recently shut down Walker with a shoulder impingement (though he's been cleared to play catch on Monday). Taillon underwent Tommy John surgery and is done for the year. Bradley is toiling away at Triple-A Reno while the Diamondbacks get pounded by the Cubs.
Meanwhile, the Marlins' Andrew Heaney is absolutely dominating at Double-A Jacksonville, and could make his way south to Miami before long.
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Heaney has made four minor-league starts this season, and after giving up three runs on 10 hits in 5.1 innings in his first outing, batters haven't been able to touch him. In his last three starts, he has surrendered one run on eight hits in 19 innings, striking out 22 and walking two. The No. 28 prospect in baseball according to MLB.com, Heaney has looked every bit the frontline starter thus far. Even with that rough first start, he has a 1.48 ERA, 1.89 FIP and 0.86 WHIP on the year.
It may be in vogue, as well as prudent and cost-effective, to bury top prospects in the minors until June to lengthen team control, but the Marlins have never really subscribed to that course of action. Jose Fernandez started the year in the majors last year despite never pitching above High-A ball. Heaney also arrived in professional baseball more advanced than most of his fellow top pitching prospects. Of the 15 pitchers ranked in the top 30 of MLB.com's best 100 prospects, only Heaney, Jon Gray, Mark Appel, Kyle Zimmer, Alex Meyer and Kevin Gausman attended college. With Jacob Turner hurting and the final two spots in the Miami rotation manned by Tom Koehler and Kevin Slowey, the Marlins could soon make room for their dynamic 22-year-old lefty currently baffling Double-A hitters. Those of you in deeper mixed leagues should think about stashing him right now. It will be too late once he gets the call.
• While Heaney is taking advantage of a potential spot in the Marlins rotation, Bradley is faltering at Reno with the Diamondbacks looking for any potential injection of excitement. After allowing three runs on five hits and two walks in his last start, Bradley's ERA is up to 3.98. He has failed to make it out of the fifth inning each of his last two times out, surrendering seven runs and 12 hits in that span. The Diamondbacks are a train wreck right now, and Bradley could still be up in the near future, but he isn't forcing his way into the major league rotation in the manner you'd like to see from a top prospect.
• The Astros called up the first big bat of the 2014 season, and they could call up the second, as well. First baseman Jon Singleton is hitting .325/.418/.740 with eight homers and 25 RBI in 91 plate appearances at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He has been in professional baseball since 2009, but he's still just 22 years old, and doesn't turn 23 until September. He struggled mightily at Oklahoma City last year, hitting just .220/.340/.347, so it's easy to see why he's not on the fast track like Springer, but it'll be hard to ignore him if he keeps putting up video-game numbers. Like Springer, he has a prohibitive K-rate (27.5 percent), but he balances it with a 14.3-percent walk rate. Expect to see him in Houston early this summer.
Could Jon Singleton be in Houston by Thursday?
• Kris Bryant, the Cubs first round pick last year, continues to rake at Double-A Tennessee. Through 75 plate appearances, he's hitting .311/.440/.590 with four homers, 10 RBI and four steals. The 22-year-old features highlight reel power, and it's just a matter of time before he's doing his thing at Wrigley Field. He still has a late-2014/early-2015 ETA, however, so he's only fantasy relevant in dynasty leagues and deep keeper leagues. He will likely see time at Triple-A Iowa before getting the call to the majors.